Welcome! This forum has a treasure trove of great info – Scouters helping Scouters! Just a heads up, though - all content, information, and opinions shared on this forum are those of the author, not the BSA.

Scouting Forums

Sea Scouting Uniforms and guidance

Before I get flamed here, I have searched the interwebs, this forum, and have read the official uniform guide. Also, my apologies for what will likely be a lengthy post. I understand there is the approved and official Sea Scout uniform, but there’s also ships that adopt the legacy uniforms, or even those who wear US Navy style uniforms.

I was a former Council Bos’n for Central Florida Council, 2001-2003, so my knowledge of sea scouting is a bit dated. I am also a current Senior Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy which is why I’d like clarity on the topic.

It is my understanding that Sea Scouts have the official blue dickie’s-style uniform, but are also authorized to wear the dress blues (with tar flap but modified piping) as well as dress whites for formal events. I also understand that youth who attain Quartermaster are authorized to wear the officer variants of the aforementioned uniforms the same as the adult leaders would.

What I dont know is the wearing of the khaki uniform. I’ve seen some images of sea scouts wearing khakis when i search the web, but cant find any sort of instruction or even any insignia for sale for that uniform. Am I correct to assume that both adults and Quartermaster qualified youth are authorized khakis as well (similar to E7+ for the Navy)?


Can we wear khakis, and if so, where do I find the insignia for sale?

No reason for anyone to get flamed! It’s a legit question if you’re coming back to Sea Scouts after a break. Thank you for your service, by the way.

If I understand correctly, Sea Scouts has moved lock, stock, and barrel to the TOSSU as the only authorized uniform. Some ships have been using legacy uniforms and are not absolutely required to change to the TOSSU (I might be wrong about that); but, certainly, the expected uniform for everyone is the TOSSU. There are a lot of good reasons for that (availability, cost, etc); but the most compelling one, and the reason we all ought to comply, is so Sea Scouts comes more into line with other BSA top level programs and has uniformity enough that we don’t look like a bunch of disparate groups just huddled together under a common name. If you’re coming back to Sea Scouts, I don’t think I’d waste time trying to get a set of khakis going (the insignia may be available; but probably not much longer). You’re better off going with the TOSSU. Also, for what it’s worth, the 5.11s or LAPD versions look much sharper and are more comfortable than the Dickie’s version. JMHO.

1 Like

That’s a huge bummer to me :frowning: I get it, doesn’t mean I have to like it.

As a Navy guy, we pride our heritage and tradition…and our many many uniforms. There’s certainly plenty of great arguments having only the TOSSU, and I suppose since the Sea Scouts truly has no affiliation with the Navy, there’s no roots to derive from. I just remember being a lowly apprentice ranked sea scout in my youth and striving hard for quartermaster so I could don the uniform of an officer and stand apart. The same happened when i joined the Navy. I hustled to become a Chief partly because of all the amazing uniforms the Chiefs had in comparison to the E6 and below.

Anyway, thanks for the wisdom. I’m just in preliminary research of starting a Sea Scout Ship in my council. the topic of uniforms came up and what I had in my head was way more complex than the BSA had intended. So I guess the simplicity of one simple working uniform makes sense.

1 Like

The Sea Scout uniforms webpage states:

Why is the Official Uniform the way it is?

The people behind the official uniform provide insight into the history of TOSSU in the publication "Why is the Official Sea Scout Uniform the way it is?

Can we wear a legacy uniform?

Yes. For ships that continue to wear the legacy Sea Scout uniforms, refer to the Sea Scout Manual for proper wear. However, every Ship is encouraged to adopt The Official Sea Scout Uniform as soon as practicable.

Sea Scout Manual - Change 3 - May 2019

Change 3 to the manual added illustrations of the “official Sea Scout uniform” (previously the centennial “New Century” uniform) to the manual.

From what I can determine detailed legacy uniform information has been removed from the Sea Scout Manual. The following images, copyright Boy Scouts of America, are from the 2012 printing of the 2002 Sea Scout Manual, 33239, ISBN 978-0-8395-3239-2, © 2002 Boy Scouts of America. The Sea Scout khaki uniform appears to be only an adult volunteer and Quartermaster uniform

Youth uniforms:

Adult uniforms:

Sea Scout Manual, 11th ed., p.23, © 2002, 2012 printing

The Quartermaster Award, the highest achievement in Sea Scouts, entitles (but does not require) the holder to wear an adult leader’s uniform (see page 21).

The Quartermaster may elect to wear the Sea Scout youth uniform instead. If the Quartermaster chooses to wear the youth uniform, the Able rank patch is removed.

Quartermaster youth members who elect to wear an adult leader’s uniform wear a black chin strap in place of the silver strap on the adult leader’s combination cover. No rank insignia is worn on the left pocket. The medallion or square knot is worn instead.

The Sea Scout anchor device without stars is worn on both sleeve cuffs of white or blue dress jackets in the same position as an adult badge of office. On white dress officer’s shirts, the Quartermaster knot is worn.

Quartermasters wear boatswain’s and boatswain’s mate badges of office on the sleeve as designated for all youth uniforms, except khaki work uniforms. Quartermasters wearing khaki uniforms will wear the Sea Scout anchor (lapel pin) on the collar in the same position as the adult leader’s badge of office.

Thanks Bill.

I was tracking everything you stated from my preliminary research already. As far as the khakis go, yes, it is an adult uniform. Similar to the US Navy, where only E7+ get to wear khakis, the same holds true in sea scouting (at least circa 2002 when i was council bosn). If you notice, the position of Boatswain’s Mate sports three chevrons (and a star), similar to that of Navy paygrade E6. Also, the actual rank structure pulls from the same roots as well; Apprentice, Ordinary, and Able having 1, 2, and 3 bars respectively (instead of chevrons; these were actual ranks in the days of wooden sail). When a Sea Scout earns Quartermaster, they forfeit the three bars and wear the quartermaster insignia. Logic says that quartermaster must be higher, and thus is at the level above three chevrons. They don the uniform of the officer with mild modification (since they are still a youth) and can even wear a non-traditional “JO” bar (though I dont think that’s authorized anymore by today’s standards).

Similar to a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy, the Chief forfeits the three chevrons and dons the uniform of an officer with slight modification (e.g. black chin strap vice the gold, different cap device, no epoulettes, etc). To become a Chief in the Navy is an incredible honor. a Chief is the subject matter expert in his field and the deckplate leader – sounds a lot like the quartermaster, right?

Anyway, this is just moot banter at this point; nothing I say or do will ever change the regs, just venting in a public forum I suppose. The Navy does a bunch of stuff I dont like as well, and yet I still follow the rules. Sea Scouts will be no different.

In Boy Scouts, and now scouts BSA ALL uniforms past and present May still be worn. So the khakis would be a “legal” uniform to wear.

1 Like


I found the BSA rule. See addition to my post above. They may also chose to wear the youth work uniform approved by their ship.

Bill_W., CPO, USN (Ret)

1 Like

thanks bill! that’s beautiful. that’s what i remember the uniforms to be from my day as well. If we ever get the ball rolling on establishing a new ship in my council, this is the way I will vote to have our uniforms. Guess it will all just depend on the rest of the quarterdeck.

Bill, just noticed you are a brother Chief. could’ve said something, bro…

Stephen, Bill,
Thank you both for your service Brothers. I haven’t had very much contact with Sea Scouts in my 41 years in Scouting. I did get a little exposure when I took the Round Table Commissioner online training a couple of days ago in which the program was “briefly” addressed. I can’t remember enough to make any educated comments concerning uniforms.
But, I do want to make a comment about the “subject matter expert” comment. When I was promoted to E8, I ceased to be a subject matter expert and became a Dad, Mother, Grandparent, Brother, Sister, Uncle, and Aunt to every one of my 150 electrician’s mates below the rank of E5! The shop E5s through E7s were the subject matter experts on whom I depended.
Fair winds and following seas in your quest to start a SHIP.
Frank Dixon

Hey Frank!

I started my career as a pit snipe in Engineering. Cant say I had the greatest of times, which is why I cross-rated. Glad to know that your roundtable and commissioner cadre is being run by a competent person though! Way to stay chief’n and leading from the front!

Actually I’m a District Commissioner but I thought I would take the RT Commissioner course for experience so I can encourage the actual RT Commissioner to take it! I’ve held a whole lot more positions in 41 years.
I never was a pit snipe at my core. Completed Nuclear Power School 1964 though. That helped me make E6 in less than 5 years.

very nice! I completed power school in 2004. then went on to 635 prototype and ELT training. got myself in trouble and gave it all back (E5 to E1) and started over. it’s been an interesting career for sure.

I had a friend in '65 who went from E7 -E1 in a short year…how does that happen?! I think in his case it was successive AWOLs and lots of booze!

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 7 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.